Transfer Rumour: Shanghai SIPG plan John Obi Mikel swoop; European clubs remain interested
Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel is drawing attention from Chinese Super League sides, particularly, Shanghai SIPG. The Red Eagles, managed by ex-Blues manager, André Villas-Boas, have already wrapped up a whopping £60 million move for Mikel’s team-mate Oscar and the club are keen on adding the Nigerian international to their ranks as well.
It is rumoured that the Chinese side have offered Mikel a pay rise of £100,000-a-week in an attempt to lure him away to the far east.
However, Mikel is reluctant to move to China and he is hoping to secure a move to one of the European clubs. Marseille and Inter Milan are interested in signing the 29-year-old, who hasn’t made a single appearance for the Blues this season.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was reportedly unhappy with Mikel’s decision to play for Nigeria in the summer Olympics which meant that he missed the club’s pre-season. Nigeria won silver at Rio 2016 and Mikel believes that opting to play in the Olympics was the right choice.
"Yes, maybe people will say the new manager was upset I left and went to the Olympics, that I didn't have a pre-season with the team,” Mikel told The Sun. “He probably thinks I don't care about the team, things like that. But I don't want to use those excuses. I have to keep training hard and make sure I change the manager's mind. If not, then we'll see what happens in January. But, no, I would never swap my Olympic medal for a place back in the Chelsea team.”
“One thing you have to do in life as a man is that when you make a decision or a sacrifice, you have to deal with it. You have to stand by your decision. You have to live with it. I have not one single regret in going to the Olympics. And I will not trade my medal for anything. I worked hard for it, so why would I trade it for something else?” he added.
The Nigerian arrived at Stamford Bridge from Norwegian side FK Lyn in 2006 and has made 372 appearances for the club. The 29-year-old has won the Champions League, the Europa League, 2 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups and 2 League Cups during his decade-long association with the Blues.
The 29-year-old’s agent John Shittu has confirmed that the Nigerian international will most probably leave Stamford Bridge when the transfer window opens next month. “It’s very likely he will leave Chelsea in January. There are many teams interested in the player,” he told The Sun.
“In the past, we spoke with Inter Milan but now there are a lot of Italian clubs that want him. I will not reveal the names, but there are other Italian teams on his trail. And beware: even the UK, Spain, Germany and even China know the value of the player and requested information about him,” he continued.
Shittu insists that Mikel has a good relationship with Conte and a move to China is unlikely. “John does not have problems with his manager. They have a normal and professional relationship," he added.
"He is only 29 years old and he is one of the best football players in the world in that position. It’s normal all the top clubs in Europe want him. The salary will be important, commensurate with his value, but the most important thing will be the football project. If everything was based only on the money he would probably go to play in China. But I repeat he can choose from the many clubs, so the project will be crucial in his decision,” Shittu concluded.